Help Support Our Local Marine Search and Rescue Volunteers

Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Unit 36-Sidney Relies on Donations

Imagine that your leisurely day out on the water has gone suddenly wrong. Your boat engine has stopped working and strong winds have blown your boat off track. Without power to get going again, you’re probably going to crash into one of the invisible sandbanks you know are in the area. 

If you ever find yourself in this kind of situation, don’t panic – the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Unit 36 is trained to help you.

Saving stranded boaters, putting out marine fires, searching for missing kayakers and removing obstacles from boating lanes are just some examples of a typical day on the water for the members of our local RCM SAR.

As boating enthusiasts, we at Van Isle Marina enjoy time out on the water as much as all of our clients and visitors do. We are also very much aware that any time we are in a boat, something could go wrong and we may need help. 

We are so lucky in Canada to have the services of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue units. These selfless volunteers are available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, to assist those who are having marine emergencies in our local waters. 

Unit 36-Sidney, based out of Canoe Cove, responds to emergencies in the waters of the Southern Gulf Islands and Saanich Inlet; from the tip of Salt Spring Island in the north to Jones Island in the south.

In the past 12 months alone, marine search and rescue teams across BC have attended to over 500 vessels in distress, rescued over 130 people and saved over $16 million worth of property.

Support the Saanich Marine Rescue SocietyRoyal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Unit 36-Sidney

The Saanich Marine Rescue Society funds and operates the RCM SAR Unit 36-Sidney, including their rescue vessel ‘Jack Simpson III’, which is named after the founder of the society. As a non-profit organization, the society relies heavily on donations and gaming grants to cover their annual operating costs of around $100,000.

Unit 36 is completely led and run by volunteers, who are all members of the local Saanich community. They receive in-depth training on marine search and rescue methods and first aid, as well as taking part in many training sessions throughout the year to keep their skills up-to-date.

In addition to being on standby for call to marine emergencies, the search and rescue unit also offers assistance to:

  • Coast Guard
  • Local municipalities
  • Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria

Saanich Marine Rescue Society also works tirelessly to promote safe boating through education by:

  • Providing boating safety training courses
  • Funding the loaner lifejacket programs found at local marinas
  • Attending local events

RCM SAR 36 – Busy Keeping Our Local Waters Safe

Just a few years ago, Van Isle Marina experienced first-hand the skill of this team when a boat caught fire in our marina. With their quick response and swift action, the situation was resolved quickly with minimal damage and no injuries. We will forever be grateful that we have this amazing group of people willing to give up their own time to help with on-the-water emergencies in our area.

These examples of calls Unit 36 has attended over the past year show the variety of emergencies for which the team needs to be ready:

  • Called to a powerboat fire off Sidney waterfront with five people including a baby on board. Luckily no one was hurt and Unit 36 transported the passengers safely to shore.
  • A rescue was required when a boat hit a reef and started taking on water quickly. Due to the owner of the vessel not being able to give an accurate location, it was too late to save the boat by the time the SAR unit arrived. Thankfully all passengers were able to be safely transported to shore.
  • Responded to a Mayday call for a person in the water near Island View beach. A kayaker who had overturned was unable to get back into his boat and was starting to succumb to hypothermia. He was swiftly transported to hospital for treatment.
  • Called to investigate a sailboat drifting into ferry lanes, the SAR Unit discovered the empty boat had a broken bowline which had caused it to drift in heavy winds. It was successfully towed back to a nearby dock.

What To Do if You Are in a Marine EmergencyLocal Marine Search and Rescue Volunteers

Of course, no one would want to be involved in a marine emergency; but if you are, it is essential that you are prepared and know what to do. Our emergency boating kit checklist provides a useful guide to what you should have onboard in case of an emergency including:

  • First aid kit
  • Lifesaving devices such as personal and throwable floatation devices 
  • Sound and light signaling tools including flashlights and whistles
  • Navigation tools so you always know your location

Most importantly, make sure your radio is working and that you know both the emergency channel and the phone number to make a mayday call.

For marine emergencies in the Saanich and Southern Gulf Islands area call:

  • RCM SAR 36 on #727 or 1 800 567 5111
  • Canadian Coast Guard on VHF Radio Channel 16 repeating MAYDAY three times 

Donate or Volunteer to Support Local Marine Search and Rescue

If you appreciate the work of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Sidney Unit as much as we do, please consider helping them in some way. Whether by volunteering to be part of their team or helping to fund their activities, we know they appreciate help and involvement from local community members.


If you live within 15 minutes of the SAR base and can be available for 2-3 watches a week consider joining the crew as a volunteer. All training is provided. For more information contact Unit 36 directly.

Donate today! 

Please consider donating to the Saanich Marine Rescue Society to help with ongoing costs including lifesaving and personal safety equipment for the rescue vessel.

To make a donation, visit the society’s Canada page, where you can make payment via credit card. Tax receipts will be automatically issued via email.